And today the sun shines brilliantly in a bright blue sky – probably the best part of the aftermath of a snowy day.
This week a wonderful poet left us: Mary Oliver. She was from Ohio. Her poetry embraced the beauty of all things in nature. Here is her poem First Snow:
The snow began here this morning and all day continued, its white rhetoric everywhere calling us back to why, how, whence such beauty and what the meaning; such an oracular fever! flowing past windows, an energy it seemed would never ebb, never settle less than lovely! and only now, deep into night, it has finally ended. The silence is immense, and the heavens still hold a million candles, nowhere the familiar things: stars, the moon, the darkness we expect and nightly turn from. Trees glitter like castles of ribbons, the broad fields smolder with light, a passing creekbed lies heaped with shining hills; and though the questions that have assailed us all day remain — not a single answer has been found — walking out now into the silence and the light under the trees, and through the fields, feels like one.
~Mary Oliver~ excerpted from American Primitive
Today I’m working on my own book of poetry and some fiber art. We’ll see how it goes.
Writing a blog it seems is one of the biggest hobbies today. Some people will be put off by the term hobby, but that is what it starts out as for most people, and then they decide to make it more serious. For me, I started writing on this blog and another one on Blogger, about two years ago. I work full time and have a pretty full life, so writing on my blog takes a back seat. What I really mean . . . is that I have not made it a priority. In all my reading about blogging, I know that it has to be a priority. So beginning now, I’m making it a priority.
So beginning this month, I’m going to write every week (that’s a good place to start) about the things that are occupying my time. I’m working on setting up an Etsy page. I’m working on a book of poetry. I’m writing some stories. I’m dreaming of a potager garden. In general, I have a lot of things in my life that I wish were full time instead of the office job I now have. I have dreams of making a life that is both creative and lucrative. I have dreams. Lots and lots of them.
Looking forward to a new year (we are almost there) and more creative endeavors.
“In spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” — Margaret Atwood
Grandma, really . . .
More help . . .
Just start pulling
And in a little time . . .
Yesterday was a wonderful day. I am “babysitting” this weekend. I really don’t have to do much to watch these kids because they are getting too old for much tending, and I’m reminded that in a few short years they will be grown and off to college. But this weekend we spent time together, and they help me get one of my gardens ready for planting before the March winds drove us back inside where it was warmer.
What I love about gardening is that I feel a sense of satisfaction. I feel like I have accomplished something. I’d like to have a much bigger garden space, and this year I’m going to add two more beds – and hopefully some flower beds around the perimeter of my yard. I have a huge space. I could grow lots and lots of things. And I dream of that. I dream mostly about all the time I’ll have after I retire.
I have always thought that I’ll have a backyard that is just bursting with gardens and all the wonderful things that gardens bring: flowers, vegetables and herbs. The garden we planted today will be a lettuce, pepper, and tomato garden. I have a vision of a wonderfully big round herb garden in the middle of the yard. I have visions of flowers all around the perimeter of the yard. I’m adding to my single little garden this year, and slowly but surely I’ll have a grand “jardin potager”.
I think the most important part of gardening is patience. It is not instant. But by working at it year after year, before long a wonderful space emerges. So many things about gardens take a little time, like getting a wonderful compost pile going and learning how to make organic additions for the garden, like worm tea.
Here are some of my favorite people/authors who are writing and talking about permaculture, urban gardening, and front yard gardening. Morag Gamble gardens in Australia, which is a pretty different climate than what I have here in Ohio, but she really has lots and lots of good ideas about gardening and making composts. The link takes you to one of her YouTube videos. Here is her blog, also fabulous! Charles Dowding is a wonderful person who writes about no dig gardening. He also lives in a very different climate from my own, but I really believe we can learn a lot about gardening by listening to what other gardeners are doing in terms of planting and mulching, etc., even if the gardener isn’t living right in our area. My favorite book that I’m reading right now is The Essential Urban Farmerby Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal. This is truly an inspiring account of two young women who are carving out a permaculture in the heart of Oakland, CA. I can’t recommend this book enough. Last but certainly not least are the grandparents of creating a life centered around growing and living a more natural life, Scott and Helen Nearing. If you don’t know them, here is a short film about their lives. You can read more here.
Well, that’s about all for today. The kids are waking up and it’s time to go back to being “babysitting” grandma! Have a wonderful weekend and go ahead, make a little start on a garden today. It will be warm any day now.
There is a well known fact about me . . . I’m a little weird. I always have been. I live in my head, I have an imagination that never stops, I’m always making up stories – because I’m always reading stories.
Today was one of those days, when I realized just how weird I am. Because I could see myself for just a moment through the eyes of the friends who were with me. My friends and I were walking around this completely charming, lovely, glorious little university town in Ohio, after having lunch together. My youngest son went to school at said university many moons ago now. It is also the hometown of my friend Julie. On this day, we were in one of my favorite art stores. It carries all kinds of art from pottery to fiber, made by local artisans, as well as wonderful supplies, and kittens in the back room during “kitten season”. For someone like me this store has it all.
Yesterday walking into the store, the woman at the counter struck me as familiar. We exchanged smiles. She greeted us and welcomed us to the store. I walked around looking at earrings and pottery contemplating what I might take home with me to remember the day with my friends. But I couldn’t get the feeling out of my mind that I knew the woman at the counter. I looked at her again. She smiled at me again – and then it hit me. I have read her blog! She makes pottery! Oh and she knits the cutest hats! So of course, being the weirdo that I am, knowing no boundary between strangers and a potential friend, I strode up to her and introduced myself and told her boldly that I thought I knew her! Oh yeah. So awkward.
And yes. I acted like a teenage girl meeting a rock star.
I told her I used to read her blog – she said she wasn’t writing it anymore – I said I thought so because I hadn’t seen a post from her in awhile – she said she was on Instagram – I said I was too – we looked for each other on Instagram (on our phones of course) and immediately started following each other.
And she was such a good sport about me fan swarming her. She even let my friend take a picture (or six) of us. AND posted them on her Instagram.
My friends were a little embarrassed. Especially my friend who grew up in the town. She is much more reserved in many ways than I am. I was still elated. Nothing could bring me down. I love meeting new people.
Then, as if meeting her wasn’t enough, when we walked back to my friend’s parent’s apartment, they had a visitor. He is a published author. He has written a book of short stories and some poetry and a book of collected essays. He was amazing. I could have talked to him all afternoon. Her parents had one of his books and I was looking through it not paying much attention to the chit chat in the room, and it hit me that I should be doing all of this: making art, writing my stories, publishing my stores, selling my art. He even asked me about my writing. It was pretty amazing. Just to talk about it.
O.K. I know this sounds a little silly, maybe. But I am a solitary artist/writer who has struggled for the past few years to make my writing and my fiber art the main focus in my life. I still work at a pretty exhausting job, which leaves me little time to even think about making art or writing. But meeting these two people, has lite some fire in me that I can’t explain.
Today is Sunday. I have dressed like I would dress if I never had to put on a sedate office outfit again, my goddess outfit if you will. We have to dress the part, yes? Today I’m going to gather my poetry and my photographs and put together a chap book. Today I’m going to make some art. Today I’m going to remember who I am.
“Children are the anchors of a mother’s life.” Sophocles
On my FaceBook page I posted lots of pictures of my own mom, but here I thought I would write about being a mom – being a mom with grown children. My middle son once told me that the terms grown children and adult children didn’t make much sense. He claimed he was an adult and grown, but no longer a child.
I’ve thought about that a lot. How do we separate from the idea of the people in our lives, all grown, with beards (I have all sons), and wives, and children of their own, and the memories we have of them as children? How do we separate from the memories of them as little people learning to walk and talk and the knowledge that they might soon be helping us walk and remember the right words?
My sons are all those things to me: men grown with lives of their own, men with wives, men with children that they worry about and help raise with their wives, and the wispy memories of them as boys who I had to bandage scraped knees for, or discipline, or encourage, or teach the basics of life to. How did they grow into men so fast?
I often contemplate how I can be a good mom to them now that they no longer need me on a daily basis. I often have to check myself, when I’m tempted to be overly involved in their adult lives. After all, they are grown up now. My job for the most part is finished.
But that’s the thing about being a mom – we are always pulled by our hearts to love our children – adults or tiny little new humans – it is all the same to mothers.
My own mother is gone now over ten years. She was my best friend while she was here on this planet, giving me advice, helping me with my own children, teaching me till the very end. On Mother’s Day I think I miss her the most. I wonder what she would have thought of my grandchildren. I wonder what she would think of the men my boys have grown into.
Probably the best thing that I have ever given myself as a mother is the permission to let my sons just be who they are as adults. To not make demands on them to continue to notice me and give me their full attention. I had their attention for many years, and now they give most of their attention to their wives, their children, and of course their jobs and friends. I am here still as their mom, but I know I am no longer the most important person in their lives, and that is the way it should be. Thankfully, I have friends and a full life of my own. Thankfully, my sons are happy (as far as I know), and prosperous (for all outside appearances), and doing just fine. I am so thankful that I was the woman who got to be their mom and help them grow up. I am so thankful on this Mother’s Day that I was given the chance in this life to be a mom to three of the most wonderful boys I know (well, I do have two wonderful grandsons and three wonderful granddaughters too, not to mention three very wonderful daughter-in-laws).
“the air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great”.
San Francisco was bright, sunny, and warm, with a cool breeze blowing in off the bay. We took the BART to the city. My first time on a subway train. And then we took a cable car to get closer to our destination – City Lights Book Store. As someone who finds so much pleasure in hanging out anywhere in the company of books, visiting City Lights is right up there with my best book afternoons. So many books. Such a short afternoon. Such a small carryon bag.
The Cable Car and City Lights Books
TURNING THE CABLE CAR
I could have bought out the store, but since I’m flying home, I decided on just a couple of books written by people my son went to college with; how amazing is that?
I always like to promote new authors here on Beans Berries and Books, so here are the books I bought, in case you would like to check out the books and the authors for yourself.
I’ve started Song Book and I’ll give each of them a review on Goodreads if you are interested. You can also join me on Goodreads and follow other books that I’m reading if you like.
After visiting me on Goodreads you also might like to get to know these two, young, up- and-coming authors better. You can read about Sam Allingham here and you can read about Rosalie Knecht here. Happy reading!
After our bookstore trip, we walked a few blocks to the San Francisco Palace Hotel where my son and his new bride hosted drinks for their friends a few weeks ago for their wedding. He wanted to show me this beautiful hotel, and we sat in the Garden Court, and had afternoon “tea”. Those drinks have tea in them, but they also have something a little stronger. We also had crab sliders, which were absolutely delicious, and some yummy little sandwiches with melted cheese and pastrami between their toasted bread layers. The picture of the sky-lighted ceiling really doesn’t do it justice. It flooded the area with natural light. I enjoyed spending time with my son, but missed my new daughter-in-law as she had to work today.
I return to Ohio on Thursday, so only a few more days of enjoying San Francisco and all its wonderful sunshine. I hear it’s cold and rainy in Ohio. Tomorrow I have lunch with my son’s new mother-in-law, and get to enjoy another trip to the city.
Rudyard Kipling said: “San Francisco has only one drawback, ’tis hard to leave.” How true this is, how true.
Very soon I’ll be on a plane, flying to the west coast to see my youngest son. He lives in Oakland, and the last time I was there, in 2014, so that I could have the whole California experience, there was an earthquake. The quake was actually in Napa. We had been sightseeing in Napa during the day, but at the last minute we decided to drive back to the Bay Area and stay at my son’s apartment instead of paying for a hotel for the night. Where we were in Oakland it only shook our beds and rattled pictures on the walls. In Napa, at the center of the quake, the magnitude was 6.0. It shook buildings so badly the walls fell down. The pictures in the newspapers the next morning showed shops in shambles, restaurants missing walls, and lots and lots of spilled wine. I recently read an article that said some places in Napa are still trying to repair the damage.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep for the rest of the time I was in California. I am an Ohio girl who is not used to the earth moving. But I’m also from a small rural University town, and the business of the Bay Area was a shock to me. I just was not prepared.
But I’m excited to go back. I know what to expect this time. The traffic. The people. The noise. The potential for moving earth. The beautiful redwoods, the Pacific Ocean, the beautiful landscapes, the fog the way it rolls in over the bay at night and rolls out in the morning (I like a foggy night or morning or walk on the beach). Most of all I’m excited to see my son and his new bride. He was married March to a beautiful, wonderful, woman who he met in California. I haven’t seen either of them for a year. They came to Ohio in 2016 to help me celebrate my 60th birthday. While we do FaceTime, it’s not the same as visiting with someone in person.
I’m also going to meet my new daughter-in-law’s parents on this trip too. I have been corresponding with my new daughter-in-law’s mom via e-mail for the past few weeks, and I feel like I know her already. I have not only gained a new daughter-in-law, I feel as though I have a new friend too.
While I’m excited to be in California again, even though the traveling alone part sometimes makes me nervous. I’ve been doing some extra meditations on being strong and capable. I’m just a little too young yet to be crippled by the fact that I have no one to travel with. I’ve even bought a new suitcase for the trip. And I’ve been going through my pictures from the last time I was in California, and reminding myself of how beautiful it is there.
I consider myself a strong, brave woman, who can do anything she puts her mind to, and certainly traveling alone is something I have to put my mind to. I love a good adventure. But as a extroverted introvert (look it up – it’s a thing) I can honestly say, travel is one of the most fun-tiring-fun-scary-fun things that I do. I’m a mix of excitement and worry and nervousness. I’m usually traveling to see my youngest son. Thanks to him I’ve been to St. Louis, the Bay Area of California, and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (and New Orleans – about a year after hurricane Katrina – 2005). I flew to St. Louis one year and the next year I drove. All. By. Myself. I remember sitting in my driveway checking to make sure I had everything for my trip and bursting into to tears. I still don’t know if it was excitement or fear. But I made it. Bay St. Louis is a beautiful place that I’d love to go back to and write on the porch of the Mockingbird Cafe Coffee House.
Oh and I think I forgot to mention that I have terrible motion sickness, so this time I’m experimenting with a whole array of motion sickness remedies. Yesterday I took a car trip with a friend, we went to visit her parents in another charming little college town just 2 hours from here (where my youngest son went to college and where my friend is from). I wore one of those acupuncture wrist band things, and I’m happy to report that I made the whole trip without any car sickness. I can’t wait to try it out on the plane and the winding roads of California.
More pictures of the 2017 adventure in California to come.